Pete Papac of Montesano, founder of Papac Logging and an internationally-known big game hunter, died Tuesday, May 7, at his home in Sparks, Nevada, at the age of 89.
“He had a hell of a life,” said his son Phil Papac. “There are not many people who can say they did the same things he did.”
He was born in 1929 to Steve and Katherine Papac in Montesano and never lived far from the home of his birth until he and his wife, Virginia, moved to Nevada a few years ago.
“He grew up dirt poor, and his dad died when he was about 8,” Phil Papac said.
Pete Papac worked in the woods as a teenager and, in 1948, started building his successful logging company.
“He was a hard worker and he expected everybody to work hard for him,” his son said. “And those that did loved him, those that didn’t, well they didn’t stick around too long,” he added with a laugh. “It’s that old-school mentality. He lived it, and lived it to a T. There was no gray area with him.”
He started hunting in 1947 as a way to put food on the table. Hunting elk and deer locally, he later expanded to hunt elk, moose and mountain goats in Canada. At the age of 50, he went off-continent to hunt mountain sheep in Mongolia.
“After the hunt in Mongolia, a gentleman from Aberdeen called up and started talking about Africa,” Pete Papac told The Daily World in 2012. “I told him I had no desire to go to Africa. A few months later we were in Africa, and I’ve been there 30 times.”
In 1979, Pete Papac took an African elephant, “his pride and joy,” said Phil Papac. A half body mount of that elephant charges through one of the walls of his trophy room, which was filled with hundreds of species taken through the decades from all over the world.
Pete Papac has been recognized for his hunting internationally and has several awards from hunting organizations, the highlight for him, as he relayed in 2012, the 1999 Weatherby Hunting and Conservation Award, which was presented to him by famed military and test pilot Chuck Yeager.
World travels aside, Pete Papac valued more the connections he made during his decades living within a mile of where he was born. “That was one of the things he was most proud of,” Phil Papac said.
Pete Papac did like the weather in Reno, Nevada, after the move, “but he missed the everyday camaraderie of Montesano,” said Phil Papac. “What I think he missed the most was that he could go to downtown Monte and always find somebody he knew. And if not, he’d come into the Crow’s Nest and sooner or later somebody he knew would show up.” Phil and his wife, Danya, are co-owners of the Crow’s Nest. Phil Papac is also a Port of Grays Harbor commissioner.
The family — Pete’s wife Virginia and his surviving children — is currently looking for locations to hold a celebration of life for Pete Papac in Montesano. A time and venue will be announced when it is available.